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Posted 20 January 2015

Irish PEN Award for Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

Dr Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the UCD School of English, Drama and Film, is to receive the 2015 Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature.

Set up in 1998 by Irish PEN, the Centre in Ireland for PEN, an international association of writers which promotes literature and defends freedom of expression, the award honours an Irish writer who has made an outstanding contribution to Irish Literature through a significant body of work, written, and produced over a number of years. It is open to novelists, playwrights, poets, and scriptwriters. Full and associate members of Irish PEN, as well as previous winners, nominate and vote for the candidate.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of University College Dublin. She studied Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a PhD in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.

She started writing short stories when she was a student and published her first story in the New Irish Writing Page in the Irish Press, in 1974 (the story was called ‘Green Fuse’: David Marcus, the editor, suggested that rather nice title, a quotation from a poem by Dylan Thomas). For about ten years she wrote occasional short stories, many of which were published in the Irish Press.  In 1983, after completing her PhD, she began to concentrate on finishing a book.  The first was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English.

She has won several awards for her writing including The Bisto Book of the Year Award, the Readers' Association of Ireland Award, the Stewart Parker Award for Drama, the Butler Award for Prose from the Irish American Cultural Institute and several Oireachtas awards for novels and plays in Irish. The novel The Dancers Dancing was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her stories are widely anthologized and translated.

Her latest novel for young people, Dordán, was published in autumn 2010, and the last collection of short stories, The Shelter of Neighbours, was published in 2012. She was elected to Aosdána, the Irish Association of Artists, in 2004.

Speaking to about the announcement, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne said, “It’s a great honour and a great delight to receive this award from Irish PEN and to find myself in such illustrious company as Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Jennifer Johnston and Frank McGuinness”.

The first Award was presented to John B. Keane in 1999. Previous recipients of the award also include: Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy, Thomas Kilroy, Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor and John Banville.

In keeping with a tradition started in 1935, (when the WB Yeats Dinner took place), the award will be presented at the Irish PEN Annual Dinner on 20 February 2015 in the company of other leading writers.

Last year, in 2014, the award was presented to Frank McGuinness, Professor of Creative Writing at the UCD School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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